A message of harmony

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A message of harmony

The first message from Pope Francis after arriving in this country was one of peace and reconciliation. It was as if he was attaching a great significance to his visit to the Korean Peninsula, the final remaining divided nation on earth, which has been split for more than six decades.

His tenderness toward Koreans who have had to endure long-standing suffering due to the constant military standoff between the South and North was also reflected in his tweets in Korean, which were posted a couple of hours after his arrival at Seoul Airport.

“May the grace of God be with you - especially the older and younger generations in Korea,” he wrote.

This prayer for the older generation, who experienced the 1950-53 Korean War, and the next generation, who are serving in the military to protect their fatherland, has been perpetually retweeted.

During a reception at the Blue House yesterday, the pontiff underscored the importance of inter-Korean ties and world peace, urging all guests to reflect on the values of harmony our young generation must share.

The pope also emphasized the importance of diplomatic efforts, dialogue and patience toward Pyongyang - instead of the vicious cycle of reciprocal slander and armed protests - in order to overcome the 61-year-old division.

At the same time, the pope strongly urged leaders wrestling with political division and economic inequality to communicate with the underprivileged. The remarks, revealing his strong will to reform society, echoed across the country as a kind of religious and social gospel.

Pope Francis has been - and will be - remembered as a man of courage who consoled humanity’s souls. Shaking hands with each of the bereaved family members of the Sewol victims in attendance, he said he was heartbroken and remembered the victims. The family members burst into tears, but the pontiff encouraged them to defeat injustice through forgiveness, tolerance and cooperation. His entreaty for Korean Catholics to be guardians of memory and hope in a bishops’ meeting is a startling admonition for the religion’s followers to become more faithful in their mission than ever before.

Pope Francis will oversee a Mass at Gwanghwamun Plaza tomorrow morning to beatify 124 Korean Catholic martyrs - mostly people from the lower class and women. Granting the honorable titles of beata for men and beatus for women is a historic moment for Korean Catholics and a symbol of mankind’s progress. The pope will pay tribute to their sublime efforts to resist the order of society based on Neo-Confucianism in the 19th-century Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and pray for them.

Pope Francis also expressed hope that Koreans will cope with their tough political and social problems with the wisdom and faith they inherited from ancestors.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 15, Page 30

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